By Joseph Tubb
Ben Harper and his backing band Relentless7’s new album White Lies for Dark Times makes with the good times, with a variety of music built around Harper’s versatile vocals. Reminiscent of classic rock, blues and soul, Lies manages to find cohesion amidst its many influences.
From opener “Number With No Name,” Harper and Relentless7 shy away from modern, clean-sounding rock, choosing a more grungy sound evocative of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, chock full of wailing vocals and choppy guitar licks.
“Lay There and Hate Me,” is perhaps the best example of the album’s funky, guitar-fueled instrumental breaks. Only a couple songs later, Harper whips out the acoustic guitar — a familiar sound from his past — for the love song “Skin Thin.”
“Skin” leads into another mellow tune, “Fly One Time,” which builds to a slow crescendo, setting up the more rock-flavoured “Keep it Together (So I Can Fall Apart).” Although “Together” suffers a bit in the lyrics department with its relentlessly monotonous refrain, the track explodes in every direction, opening with blaring vocals and instrumentals before sinking into a groovy instrumental break.
Overall, Lies is well thought out, with some excellent transitions and variety. Harper’s voice shines at singing rock and really sets the album’s mood. For those wanting to take a modern trip through rock’s past, White Lies for Dark Times shouldn’t disappoint.